The holidays can be tough to navigate after a divorce, and if you’re experiencing them for the first time as a newly divorced parent, they can bring up strong emotions and reminders of years past when they were celebrated as a family unit. The first Father’s Day after a divorce can be challenging for moms and dads alike, but as with all decisions you make as co-parents, the focus of your actions should ultimately be in the best interest of your children. Here are some things that both moms and dads can do to make for a smooth and happy Father’s Day after divorce:
- Be Cooperative When It Comes To Custody and Visitation: Hopefully you and your ex have arranged custody so that you spend time with the kids on Mother’s Day, and he has them on Father’s Day. In the event that this isn’t the case, barring any obvious safety or legal issues, be cooperative in letting the children spend the day (or weekend) with dad, even if it falls outside the pre-determined custody schedule.
- Be Helpful With Gifts: Nice gestures and gifts may be the last thing on your mind when it comes to your ex, in the wake of a divorce. However, if you have younger children who can’t pick out or purchase Father’s Day gifts or write out cards themselves, help them out just as you would have when you and their father were together. You don’t need to give a gift or card yourself (unless you feel compelled to) but think of helping your kids with their gifts as something that is continuing to foster their healthy relationship with their dad, and your relationship as co-parents.
- Put aside your differences: This is easier said than done in the fresh wake of a divorce, but do what you need to do to show kindness to your ex. Leave the difficult issues or grievances for another day, and focus on the positive aspects of your ex as a father, and not as your former spouse. Your children will pick up on your attitude and emotions, and the day will go smoother for everyone if you keep a positive attitude.
- Cooperation Is A Two-Way Street: If your custody days don’t fall on Father’s Day and you’d like to negotiate some extra time with your kids, approach your ex wife with kindness as you make your requests. Keep in mind that she is much more likely to be cooperative if you’ve shown her the same regard (for Mother’s Day and other important days to her) and have shown your willingness to work together on other important issues.
- Manage Your Expectations: The Father’s Day after a divorce will likely look different than in years past. Perhaps your wife used to shower you with gifts and this is no longer the case. Try not to focus on what is missing from this year’s celebration, but instead on the reason(s) for the day – your kids, and your love for them. Find something to do that you will all enjoy and put away the stress of expectations or nostalgia for past traditions.
- Be honest with your children: It’s normal for you to feel some sadness on your first Father’s Day after a divorce, and your kids may also be experiencing sadness, anger or anxiety at the shift in the family dynamic. If your kids are old enough, talk with them about what you both are feeling and explain that it is normal to feel these emotions. Ultimately, make sure you reinforce the positive aspects of the new arrangement, and your love for your children which will not change in spite of your relationship with their mother.
- Be flexible: If for some reason you can’t arrange custody to be with your children on Father’s Day, arrange to celebrate with them on a different day and focus on the time with your children as being the most important factor – rather than the date itself.
With some cooperation, respect, and consideration, both parents can do their part to make the first Father’s Day (and any Holiday) after divorce a success – even though it may look different than in years past. Ultimately your focus as parents should be on the wellbeing of your children, and that means putting aside your own differences to allow your children to continue a healthy relationship with their other parent, even if you can no longer continue the relationship as husband and wife.
If you are considering a divorce or need help regarding child custody issues, call the experienced Tampa divorce attorneys at Anton Castro Law, who are dedicated to representing your best interests: 813.907.9807.